We need long train journeys on which we have no wireless signal and nothing to read, where our carriage is mostly empty, where the views are expansive and where the only sounds are those made by the wheels as they click against the rails in rhythmical succession. We need plane journeys when we have a window seat and nothing else to focus on for two or three hours but the tops of clouds and the constant presence, only metres away in the inconceivable cold, of a Rolls-Royce engine, slung under the broad ash-grey wing, its discipline and bravery helping to propel our own vagabond thoughts.
The thing about what’s in our heads is that it doesn’t just sit there when we’re not using it. It stews. It quietly coalesces with all the other head-stuff, incubating and synthesising and system-building and bubbling up when it needs to (or sometimes inopportunely). And it brings its considerable weight to bear on novel puzzles, encounters and emotions without our even willing it to. It enriches, in a woolly, holistic way, our engagement with the world and with ourselves, the way things strike us and the way we respond. It does this because the brain isn’t just a storage space but a living, evolving thing.